I need to write down my random thoughts on what just happened…
Rumors got out a couple of days ago, but in case you missed it: Visual Studio LightSwitch 11 was released in public beta a couple of hours ago!
- Download it – it’s no longer a separate download, but is included in the full Visual Studio 11 consumer preview.
- Find out what’s new on the official LightSwitch team blog.
There will probably be more official content later today, and over the next few weeks, but let’s dive into the “what’s new” post together while the installer is running… My blog post won’t list the new features, the official announcement covered that briefly but with just enough detail, instead, lets reflect a bit on how this will change our lives as LightSwitch newbies, experts, and hackers alike…
The LightSwitch team has been listening!
And they have been listening!
And not only have they been listening when we addressed them directly, but they have been listening when we blogged, tweeted, or even posted popular LightSwitch extensions that solve some common problems in LightSwitch v1… They have been listening! So let’s continue, more than ever, to connect to the LightSwitch team, connect to each other, and enjoy how LightSwitch product and community becomes better and better over the years.
The result, is directly visible in LightSwitch 11. The ability to define data relationships on external data, an easy way to add static text and images, new business types (web address and percentage), assigning roles on Active Directory groups to easy the user management pains, …
All of this is mainly for end-user-developers, which of course, includes us experts and hackers as well! Really, besides exploring the technological wonders of LightSwitch, we use it to write applications too, right?
Welcome LightSwitch as a first class citizen!
What’s more, today marks the availability of Visual Studio 11 Beta
This, might be one of the most influencing novelties confirmed today. LightSwitch is no longer (solely?) available as a separate download, but is included in the full-blown Visual Studio 11. LightSwitch v1 primarily targeted “end-user-developers”, or at least – that’s how it often felt, and by including it in the full VS 11 package, Microsoft is clearly signalling that they haven’t, and will never, forget about us experts & hackers.
It’ll be a lot easier to convince other professional developers to give LightSwitch a second try, to convince them that it’s not “Access version 2″ (yes, one person literally asked me that… I politely giggled at his ignorance then, but am laughing out loud now!), if it’s already installed on their machines!
The fact that there is a next version of LightSwitch, and that it’s included in the full VS 11 suite, is also a clear acknowledgment that LightSwitch has a future, and that Microsoft is working hard on that future. Who would have guessed that a billion dollar company wouldn’t release a product without a bigger plan?
In the middle of all this “HTML5 and Metro”-hyping, a lot of people also wondered if LightSwitch wasn’t “dead before it even started”, because of using SilverLight as a front-end technology. To be honest, the business doesn’t care much about front-end technology, but we, as professional developers, want to stay trendy and hip, and in a way, they gave us that with this release… (Read on…)
Getting your data out of a LightSwitch application!
LightSwitch v1, included quite some options to get your ‘legacy’ data in a LightSwitch application – design it yourself, connect to an existing database, SharePoint, custom WCF RIA services, … but apart from some custom excell exports, you could not get your data back out easily.
First, LightSwitch in VS11 has embraced OData. [...] adds first-class support for connecting your business applications to OData feeds. [...] But, we thought we’d spice things up more and turn our OData support on its head – in VS11, LightSwitch also makes is extremely easily to produce and deploy your own data as OData services. This is both true for tables you define in your project as well as external data sources you connect to. What this means is that the LightSwitch server pipeline [...] is no longer a closed black box – other apps can now leverage the simplicity and power of LightSwitch via the OData feeds it exposes.
So many ideas pop into my head…
- Instead of LightSwitch connecting to other application’s data, other applications can now connect with greatest easy, to our LightSwitch application’s data. For me, this takes LightSwitch away from the “tool that can connect to enterprise solutions”, right up there on the pedestal as the “application that is part of an enterprise solution”.
- If you have some legacy apps, but don’t have the need to re-write them as a LightSwitch application, you can abuse LightSwitch to create an OData service for it. Create a new LightSwitch application, connect to the database of the legacy app, don’t make any screens but instead, publish the LightSwitch OData service only. Convert-legacy-to-future? Fastest tool to accomplish the job, right here!
- And last but not least… My personal favorite… Since the LSML contains a definition of your screens (in other words: how your data should be presented) and OData services are available to interact with the data… What’s stopping us, as a community, to create a Windows Phone, WinRT, or HTML5 framework, based on the output created with the LightSwitch built-in editor?
So… Who’ll be the first to accomplish such a project? Or does anyone want to start an open source project? Who’s ready to dream with me, and make those dreams come true, thanks to the awesomeness, that is LightSwitch 11…
Now, if you will excuse me, the installer just prompted me to reboot my pc… I’ll probably be in the LightSwitch 11 zone during the next 48 hours straight, but please, leave a comment and tell me how you feel, or what your opinion is, on the beautiful gift we got today? Merry Christmas, everyone!